Old-fashioned Onion Toast

Sometimes simple foods are the best. Toast toppers are a favorite of mine for lunch or a light dinner, so when I saw a recipe for Onion Toast in a hundred-year-old magazine, I had to give it a try.

Mild, sweet onion slices embedded in a rich, creamy sauce are served over a classic French toast.  The bread was soaked in beaten eggs, and then grilled to create a delightful French toast that added an unexpected, but delightful, dimension to this dish.

In days gone by, this simple dish was probably seen as a way to stretch budgets when money was tight – but I would put this dish in the category of gourmet comfort food. This recipe is a keeper, and will become part of my repertoire of recipes that I regularly make.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)

When I made this recipe I wasn’t exactly sure what a Bermuda onion was, so I googled it and determined that it was a large, mild onion. But I was surprised to discover that in the late 1800s and early 1900s that large quantities of onions actually were imported into the U.S. from Bermuda. According to the Bermuda 4U website, after Mark Twain visited Bermuda, he wrote about its wonderful onions in Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion:

The onion is the pride and joy of Bermuda. It is her jewel, her gem of gems. In her conversation, her pulpit, her literature, it is her most frequent and eloquent figure. In Bermuda metaphor it stands for perfection — perfection absolute.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Onion Toast

  • Servings: 2 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Onion Sauce

2 onions, sliced (about 1 1/4 cups sliced onions)

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 cup milk

French Toast

2 eggs

4 slices bread

1/4 teaspoon salt

pepper

butter

Onion Sauce: Melt butter in a skillet using medium-low heat, then add the onion slices and saute until the onions become soft and translucent.  Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the milk while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until hot and bubbly. Remove from heat and serve over the French Toast.

French Toast: Beat eggs with a fork, then stir in salt and a dash of pepper.  Dip the bread slices in the egg mixture then place on a hot griddle that has been generously greased with butter. Using medium heat, grill until the bottom side of the bread is browned, then flip and cook the other side.

Cook’s notes: The original recipe called for 6 slices of bread, but I used 4 slices. I only had enough of the beaten eggs to coat 4 slices – and the amount of onion sauce seemed about right for 4 slices. I also did not scald the milk prior to stirring it into the onion mixture.

Old-fashioned Apple John Recipe

Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

The apples on my tree are ripe. It’s time to dig out the apple recipes, which for me means searching for apple recipes in hundred-year-old cookbooks. I found a recipe with an unusual name, Apple John. Intrigued, I decided to give it a try.

I think I found a winner. The Apple John is kind of like an upside-down cobbler made with shortcake dough. It was tasty, attractive, and easy to make.

Here is the original recipe:

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Apple John

  • Servings: 5-7
  • Difficulty: easy
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Stewed Apples

6 cups sliced apples

1/3 cup water

1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Shortcake

2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup shortening

3/4 cup milk

To make stewed apples, place the sliced apples in a large saucepan, then add sugar, cinnamon, and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Continue to simmer gently until the apples are soft (approximately 10-15 minutes). If needed, add additional water. Remove from heat and put the stewed apples in a 9″ X 9″ X 3″ or similar-sized greased baking dish or pan.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 425° F.  Put flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl; stir to combine. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture  Add milk and stir just enough to combine using a fork.

Drop spoonfuls of the shortcake dough on top of the stewed apples to cover them. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Remove from oven and invert on serving plate.

Old-fashioned Green Peppers Stuffed with Fish

It’s always fun to find a “new” way of serving a classic in a hundred-year-old cookbook. I recently was browsing through an old cookbook and found a recipe for Green Peppers Stuffed with Fish. Of course, I had to give it a try.

The Green Peppers Stuffed with Fish were delightful.  The tender and flavorful peppers balanced nicely with the mild, delicate taste of the fish. (I used flounder.)

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Green Peppers Stuffed with Fish

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3-4 medium peppers (The number of peppers needed will vary depending upon size. Green peppers must have been very small a hundred years ago. The amount of stuffing would not come even close to stuffing  8 modern “good-sized” peppers.)

2 cups cooked halibut or other white fish, flaked (I bought 1 pound of frozen flounder, baked it, and then flaked it. It made approximately 2 cups.)

1 1/2 tablespoons butter + approximately 1 teaspoon butter for bread crumb topping

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut thin slice from stem end of each pepper. Remove all seeds and membranes. Wash inside and out. Put peppers in a large sauce pan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cook peppers for 5 minutes; drain.

In meantime, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan. Stir flour, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce into melted butter. Slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring constantly. Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of the hot white sauce mixture into dish with beaten egg, stir quickly.  Then add egg mixture to the remaining white sauce, and cook for two minutes using medium heat. Stir in the flaked fish and continue cooking until the mixture is hot.

Lightly stuff each pepper with the fish mixture. Stand peppers upright in ungreased baking dish. Top the fish mixture with bread crumbs and small dabs of butter.  Cook until the bread crumbs are lightly browned and the stuffing is very hot (20-30 minutes).

Old-fashioned Eggplant en Casserole

During these last days of summer I’m enjoying all the wonderful fresh vegetables, so when I saw a recipe for Eggplant en Casserole in a hundred-year-old magazine, I was intrigued and had to give it a try. The recipe had an old-fashioned goodness, with a taste and texture that was a little different from more modern eggplant casseroles.

The recipe is made with mashed eggplant that blended nicely with the other ingredients. In addition to the eggplant, the recipe called for corn and onion – as well as a little tomato soup, and it was topped with a crispy bread crumb topping.

Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)

Eggplant en Casserole

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 small classic eggplants (approximately 4 cups mashed)

2 tablespoons shortening

2 medium onions, chopped

1 cup corn cut from the cob (approximately 1 cup)

1/2 cup tomato soup (I used canned tomato soup.)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/2 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375° F. Peel eggplants and cut into slices. Put into a steamer basket, and steam until tender (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and mash.

In the meantime, melt the shortening in a skillet using medium low heat; add chopped onion and saute until tender. Stir in the mashed eggplant, corn, tomato soup, salt and pepper. Put into a casserole, cover with bread crumbs and dot with butter. Put in over and bake until hot and bubbly (about 1/2 hour).

Hundred-year-old Baked Bean Recipe

Baked beans are a classic summer dish to take to picnics, barbeques, and potluck dinners. So I was excited when I found a hundred-year-old recipe for Baked Beans.

It takes a long time to make Baked Beans the traditional way. They need to be soaked overnight and then cooked for many hours. I thought about possible shortcuts (using canned beans or cooking the beans in a pressure cooker), but I decided that it would be more authentic to follow the directions in the old recipe.

The old-fashioned Baked Beans were hearty and tasty – however, they had much less sauce than most modern versions. When I served them, I asked my husband what he thought. He said, “They remind me of Baked Beans relatives used to bring to reunions years ago.”

I still had a few doubts, so when I begin to write this post I said to him, “I’m still not sure about this recipe. The beans seemed a little dry and there wasn’t much sauce.”

He replied, “They were good.”

So the final verdict is that they aren’t quite like modern Baked Beans, but they’re good.

Source: Larkin Housewives’ Cook Book (1915)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Baked Beans

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups dried pea or navy beans (I used navy beans.)

4 cups water + additional water

1 small onion, diced (approximately 1/3 cup)

2-3 slices bacon, diced + bacon for top of dish

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons canned diced tomatoes (or use diced fresh tomatoes)

2 tablespoons molasses or brown sugar (I used molasses.)

1/8 tablespoon baking soda

pepper

Soak dried beans in 4 cups water overnight, then drain. Put the soaked beans in a large saucepan, add onions, diced bacon, and salt, then cover with water. Bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and gently simmer until the beans are almost tender (about 1 hour).  Remove from heat and add tomatoes, molasses/brown sugar, and baking soda; Place in 2-quart heavy casserole dish or bean crock; arrange bacon slices on the top and sprinkle with pepper; cover.  Put in oven (preheated to 325° F.), and bake for 4-5 hours. If necessary, add additional hot water to keep moist while cooking. (I didn’t add any water.)

Old-fashioned Tomato Succotash Recipe

I always thought Succotash was a mixture of corn and lima beans, so I was surprised to see a recipe in a hundred-year-old magazine for Tomato Succotash. The recipe called for seasonal vegetables – tomatoes, corn, green pepper, and onions – so, of course, I had to give it a try.

The medley of vegetables was delightful.  This recipe is a keeper. And, I know that it will become part of my repertoire of recipes that I regularly make.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)

I’m not sure what is meant by “green corn” in the recipe. When I made the recipe, I took it to mean tender (perhaps slightly immature) corn.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Tomato Succotash

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 large tomatoes

3 large ears of corn , cooked (tender corn is best)

2 tablespoons butter

1/ 2 green pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Peel and slice the tomatoes, set aside. (I put the whole tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then removed from the hot water and put briefly in cold water. The skins are then easy to slip off the tomatoes).

Cut the corn from the cob. Set aside.

Put the butter in a large skillet; melt using medium heat. Add green pepper and onion; saute until tender. Stir in the sliced tomatoes, corn, salt, sugar, and paprika. Cook until the mixture is hot and bubbly. Remove from heat and serve.

Old-fashioned Peach Tapioca Dessert “Without Cream”

I recently found a hundred-year-old recipe for the perfect peach dessert – Peach Tapioca Without Cream.  The name is a bit misleading. This luscious, refreshing dessert is topped with almond-flavored whipped cream.

The peaches are embedded in a delightful, thick, sweet, tapioca sauce made with water, sugar, and lemon. The use of water rather than the usual milk or cream creates a lovely new dimension that’s unlike any tapioca I’ve ever eaten.

This recipe was published in Good Housekeeping in 1917.  At the time, food prices were rapidly rising due to food shortages cause by World War I. Cream was expensive – so the recipe called for making the tapioca with water instead of cream. But apparently the recipe author couldn’t bring herself to totally eliminate the cream and decided that people could afford to use a little cream that could be whipped into a delightful topping.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (October, 1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern readers:

Peach Tapioca without Cream

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Peach Tapioca

1/2 cup granulated tapioca (Minute tapioca)

3 cups water

1/4 teaspoon salt

juice and grated rind of  1/2 lemon

3/4 cup sugar

6 large peaches, pared and thinly sliced

Combine the tapioca, water, and salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil using medium heat while stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer gently while continuing to stir; cook until the mixture is clear and thick (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in the lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and sugar. Added the sliced peaches and gently stir to combine. Put into a bowl and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Serve with Almond-Flavored Whipped Cream.

Almond-Flavored Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

4 tablespoons confectioners sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Put cream in a bowl; beat until stiff peaks form. Add confectioners sugar and almond extract; beat until combined.